So I turned up in Germany under trained but with a new perspective of simply enjoying myself. Don't get me wrong, I was going to nail myself to the wall but I wasn't going to destroy myself and end up miserable.
On a family note, Sid and Seb were still at school so Shilpa decided not to come as she has had enough Ironman spectating to last a life time. My Mum and Dad drove over from the UK though and my sister, Angela, husband, Markus and 3 out of 4 of her kids, Jan, Nico and Sven, came too from their home in the Black Forest, Germany.
The race is a bit fragmented as the swim is in a shipping canal but T1 and T2 are separate locations. Consequently the logistics are a bit tricky so I was very grateful to have Sam on hand who'd done the race two years before.
Come race day rain was forecast for 2pm and it was clear that the wind was going to play a large factor on the bike. As it turned out no rain materialised but the wind was a real drain on the bike times.
All good and very efficient, the usual German way. I was set up in no time and went in search of the portaloos for my 4th "sit-down" of the morning. As I got into a portaloo line I noticed that the guy at the front looked familiar..."Bryan" I yelled.
Bryan Payne from Canada had said he'd do this race and on that basis and the fact that Sam was doing it was enough for me to enter. Unfortunately Bryan was staying miles from where we were and together with on-line work commitments and keeping the family happy we didn't get to meet up throughout the whole event except for this fated moment.
My wave start was straight after the pros and Bryan was in a wave 30 minutes later. We had a great chat and a catch up and wished each other the best but I had to head to the water pretty sharpish. The downside to this is that I couldn't pull off his goggles as the gun went but the upside was that he couldn't try to draft off me haha.
I pushed my way through the gate to get a decent warm up at the same time as the pros. Unfortunately this triggered my chip and added an extra 10 minutes to my finish time as the timing system assumed that I started with the pro wave. It was all sorted out after the race but not in time to stop Bryan posting all sorts of abuse and gloating. Talk about having to eat humble pie, in the end the poor bloke got beat by an almighty 9 seconds and he's backpedalling to this day. I reckon I've got a few years mileage on this one. haha
Good transition - solid, no mishaps and straight onto bike. All good.
On the bright side there is one hill on the course that we do twice, it is about 500m longer, quite steep although not a big issue but it slows you down to a grind and the crowds there are ten deep and they literally part in front of you as you ride through them. It's just like you see in the Tour de France. You can't help yourself but to go up there with a silly grin on your face. WICKED!
I reckon I lost about 15 minutes on the bike detour but even so the time was rubbish by my standards even despite the wind. We'll put that down to burn out and a bad day at the office. Gladys was wonderful though despite her injury and I can't blame her at all.
T2 was somewhat less smooth than T1, I was struggling to walk for a start, I'd got very stiff during the ride. Not too bad though and was soon set up for the run.
The run was along the shipping canal and although some people called it boring I loved it. We were shaded from the sun, it was pancake flat and just beautiful surroundings. At either end we ran through little villages with huge support, it was wonderful (despite the pain).
I saw Bryan as I was heading back from the first turnaround and I reckoned I had a 40 minute lead over him, so with the wave start about 10 minutes in reality. He was moving really fast though. Stay focused I thought.
After that it was back to the grind and just trying to keep it together. At the other end of the canal you turn off and go and do an out and back to a village and then it's back on to the canal with about 12k to go. I saw Bryan again but he didn't see or hear me this time. He ran down the slope, to the aid station, didn't break stride, grabbed a drink and tore off. He literally didn't lose a second. OMFG, he's definitely catching me big time, rather than slugging out the last 12 painful kilometres I need to pick up the pace...this is gonna hurt...and it did.
Somehow, I ran the whole thing bar very short walks through the aid stations. The finish was brilliant, massive crowds and beer (albeit no-alcoholic) on tap and free as soon as you crossed the line.
I eventually met up with Sam and Carmen but somehow missed Bryan. I caught up with my sister and family before they had to drive home (work the next morning, so cool of them to come, thanks guys). I saw my mum too, unfortunately my dad was super sick (pneumonia that he caught somehow on the drive over) so he wasn't able to leave the caravan.
All in all a brilliant race that I reckon is one of the best I've done albeit I'd have enjoyed it more had I been fresh rather than semi-burnt out. So yes I would highly recommend it although be prepared for the logistical difficulties the different transition locations present, especially after the race when you're tired and just want to get your stuff your bike and get home.
Bryan has taken a bashing since the race, he thought he'd won, blogged about it, bragged about it, laughed at me about it and then put me back in my box when I suggested the results might be wrong. When eventually things were sorted and the official results posted the shoe was on the other foot...now being a quiet, demure, quiet kind of a guy...(oops no, that's someone else)...I am proud to say I have been (and will continue to) milking my 9 SECOND victory.
10 hours and 46 minutes of racing and I win by a glorious 9 Seconds. As some of you may know my new Twitter name is now "9 SECONDS"...Bryan has done his best to be a good egg about it but you can see that it's eating away at him. In the end he even got his girlfriend of 20 years to post this little video. Nice to see she's a good sport but Bryan you got to let this go buddy. Don't let it upset you. I solemnly promise that if you let it go that I will too (in about 10 years Whahahahahahaha).